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Still here! Repair and Media at Hackaday

The history of electronic equipment repair brought back memories. See How To Repair? The Death Of Schematics | Hackaday – Here are the major topics discussed:

Documentation: Riders and Sams (and) Heathkit were the resource for repair documentation. Nowadays it’s likely to be YouTube. That leads off to the media article referenced below. It also brings up comparisons between the HF rigs on the shelf.

The Triton IV was a first generation solid state transceiver back in the 70’s and highly regarded by cw enthusiasts. I used some common IC’s but the circuits were modular and fairly simple. By Icom 735 time heading into the 90’s the parts count on radios went through the roof. Displays were digital and computer technologies were invading the designs but they were still analog with discrete parts. Board designs were getting quite crowded.

The Icom 705 is back to a rather simple circuit. Most of what was analog has been moved into software. The radio firmware updates program five different computer chips and that doesn’t include the WiFi and GPS chips.

Parts: The change here isn’t what it seems. The narrative is about proprietary with longing for the days of NTE and ECG and RCA SK or Motorola HEP transistors. The real problem is that the catalog of available parts is humongous and blends into inexpensive ‘integrated’ circuits and modules with their own large catalog of features and capabilities.

Recycle is another narrative suffering perspective. Consider the weight of a 60’s color TV versus a modern one. That old CRT was a lot of glass with lead and other hazardous materials for radiation and voltage safety. The parts count in that old TV was much higher than in a new one. The old one had a fairly short life and an expense that warranted significant effort for repair. New ones will last much longer, cost much less for much more, and, when they do fail, cost of repair competes with low replacement costs that will also return significant upgrades.

The comments for this column chew on these issues from some who have ‘been there and done that’ and describe their experiences.

A lot of the repair issue is about intellectual property. That goes back to Bill Gates famous letter about stealing his BASIC code on early microcomputers and the Free and Open Source movement. Danny Chadwick thinks You Should Still Buy Blu-Rays and DVDs, Here’s Why – Review Geek in order to be able to manage and control the intellectual property (IP) you acquire license to use.

Some folks are paranoid about media longevity as the IP may not be readable after a while like a book can be read even if it’s hundreds of years old. Think about the problem you have trying to read a floppy today or the services that convert your family pictures and movies to digital media.

The fact is that you can get a lot of information whether it is music or video or literature in an electric form and you aren’t limited a to floppy that doesn’t have enough space to hold a cell phone snapshot. A 12 terrabyte drive can be had for a couple hundred bucks. A 256 MB flash card available for a few tens can hold manuals for all of your gear with ease. Finding those manuals and working with copyright might be a challenge but there are many resources now available on the I’net to help.